Raynes Park High School in Wimbledon became the first-ever state school to become an accredited Tim Henman Foundation/BECSLink Community last Friday, March 16.
Former British number one tennis player Tim Henman was joined by Olympic gold medal-winning hockey player Crista Cullen, Mayor of Wimbledon councillor Marsie Skeete, and 400 children from primary schools across Merton who participated in a range of activities at the school in Bushey Road to mark the achievement.
Four talented pupils from the school were then awarded scholarships, made possible by a three-year grant from the foundation, to pursue their talents.
Speaking of the experiences and opportunities he had as a schoolchild, Henman said: “I got an opportunity because I was good at tennis.
“But you don’t necessarily need to just be good at tennis to get an opportunity, you could be good at another skill in the arts, or in science or technology, or whatever it may be.
“Or you might not have that opportunity, so if we can create some of those and give scholarship awards then hopefully that’s going to have an impact down the line.”
This is the first of his foundation’s scholarship programmes, with plans to introduce more in the future.
Children from West Wimbledon, Green Lane, Kings Oak, Joseph Hood, Burlington and William Morris primary schools attended the event.
The day included music workshops with international operatic trio Tenors Unlimited, who later performed with Raynes Park school choir, as well as a Pi-Top computer workshop and a catering challenge.
More activities for the schoolchildren were provided by Engaging Education, Fulham Football, Raynes Park High School, Performance Plus, Wimbledon Hockey and Sublime Science.
One workshop was run by Olympic gold medal hockey player, Crista Cullen MBE as part of Wimbledon Hockey Club’s Quick Start programme, which aims to encourage more school children to play hockey.
They were also joined by Richard Garrett, CEO of BECSLink, and popular blogger Lady Wimbledon.
BECSLink encourages collaboration at a local and national level to create exciting learning opportunities for young people.
Kirsten Heard, head teacher at Raynes Park, said: “We are proud to become the first state school accredited as a BECSLink community.
“BECSLink’s role as the social mobility network, together with their partners from national and local Merton businesses, education charities, and sports and arts organisations are helping us supply outstanding resources and learning opportunities for students and teachers not only from my school, but also from other local schools.
“It’s wonderful that Tim is with us on the day and that his Foundation is playing such an important role.”
Richard Garrett, CEO of BECSLink added: “Raynes Park High School will be the leading model for us in the state sector.”